If you suffer from frequent heartburn you probably feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to get some relief. You’ve avoided eating big meals, you’ve skipped the hot stuff and you’ve even tried to stay away from high-fat foods, but the burning pain keeps coming back.
Overlooked causes of heartburn
Well it turns out for lots of folks the “usual suspects” aren’t the things triggering their heartburn, and you may be one of them. Following are six surprising causes of heartburn that could be the key to resolving your own case.
1. Citrus fruit:
Citrus fruits are healthy. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients your body needs, such as potassium and vitamin C. But if you find yourself struggling with heartburn, you might want to use caution with citrus. According to the Mayo Clinic, the acid in some of your favorite fruits could trigger heartburn.
Ease back on the citrus fruits and juices to see if that reduces your symptoms. If not you’re in the clear, and can add them back into your diet.
2. Eating too late:
When it comes to heartburn it isn’t always about what you eat, sometimes it’s about when you eat. In fact, eating within two hours of bedtime can trigger a killer case of heartburn even in folks who don’t normally suffer from it.
When you eat your stomach secretes acids and enzymes to help digest the food. But when you lie down in the middle of this process it not only becomes harder for your body to digest the food, you’re liable to end up sending the acid in the wrong direction into your esophagus triggering heartburn.
Instead, try standing up and walking around after a meal to encourage digestion, and to help those gastric juices to keep flowing down instead of up.
It’s true, for some folks exercise can trigger heartburn. But this isn’t a reason for couch potatoes to rejoice. It’s a warning to start exercising wisely, because getting fit and losing weight can help relieve your heartburn in the long run.
If you know you will be working out be sure to eat only small meals or snacks ahead of time, and try to wait at least an hour between eating and exercise. And when you have eaten before hitting the gym limit exercises that contract your abdominal muscles or ones that make you bend or lie down.
4. Fish oil supplements:
It’s important to get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. But if you’re a frequent heartburn sufferer and some of your omega-3s come in the form of a fish oil pill the supplement could be behind your problem.
Take a break from the fish oil for a while and try to get your healthy fats from whole foods such as fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. If you don’t feel a significant difference after a couple of weeks you can likely safely start taking your supplement again.
A wide variety of over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications can trigger heartburn. If you’re taking any kinds of meds keep track of when you’re taking them and when the burn strikes to spot any connections.
If you believe a medication you’re taking could be one of your causes of heartburn talk with your doctor about stopping or changing the drug.
6. Too little stomach acid:
Stomach acid typically declines as we age. In fact, some experts say that by the time we’re 60 up to 30 percent of us have too little stomach acid rather than too much. Yet our struggles with heartburn tend to increase as we age.
If your efforts to cure your heartburn by reducing stomach acid have failed you, you could be suffering from low stomach acid. And if this is the case while antacids may temporarily help with symptoms, your heartburn will keep resurfacing. If you suspect low stomach acid is behind your heartburn taking a hydrochloric acid supplement may help.
And remember you should never stop taking an antacid cold turkey. Talk to your doc about weaning off of them slowly so you don’t trigger a rebound effect that can be worse than the heartburn that caused you to start taking them in the first place.
Stop suffering in silence with the burning pain of heartburn, and don’t resign yourself to popping antacids for the rest of your life. Explore these unexpected causes of heartburn instead. Because permanent relief could be a lot closer than you realize.